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'One Nation Under God': 5 Key Pledge Of Allegiance Court Cases

Image: 'One Nation Under God': 5 Key Pledge Of Allegiance Court Cases
Protesters gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 24, 2004 as the court hears arguments in a case deciding the use of the phrase "under God" in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. (Mannie Garcia/Getty Images; Win McNamee/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Sunday, 09 Nov 2014 06:09 PM

The inclusion of the phrase “one nation under God” in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is considered by some people to violate the constitutional decree of separating church and state.

Court cases have been brought to court since the 1950s, challenging the inclusion of “one nation under God.” Here are a few of those cases:

ALERT: Should 'One Nation Under God' Stay in the Pledge of Allegiance? Vote Now

One of the first cases to set the stage for future legal action regarding the Pledge of Allegiance occurred in 1943, which was before the words “one nation under God” were even added to the pledge. In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the court ruled that public schoolchildren could not be compelled to salute the flag, according to the Oyez Project, a site on Supreme Court cases maintained by the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “"[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein," Oyez quoted the majority opinion.

Future court cases would uphold the idea that saying the pledge or saluting the flag is a voluntary act.
 
2. Elkgrove Unified School District v. Newdow — 2002-2009 Michael Newdow’s daughter attended a California school, and in 2000, he challenged the district for requiring her to say “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Newdow, an atheist, took the case to federal district court arguing that his daughter shouldn’t have to listen to the pledge, reported the Oyez Project.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals first found in Newdow’s favor in 2002, causing an uproar throughout the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision, but not on the case itself, rather on the technicality that Newdow wasn’t in a position to petition the courts in his daughter’s place as he didn’t have custody, CBS News said.

3. Newdow refiled, along with other parents, and in 2005, a federal court found in Newdow’s favor, pushing the case back to the appeals court, CBS said. In 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the words “under God” in the pledge and “In God We Trust” on currency do not violate separation of church and state.

VOTE NOW: Should the Pledge of Allegiance Be Changed?

"The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded," CBS quoted Judge Carlos Bea in the majority 2-1 ruling.

Newdow told CBS he would appeal the case.

4. In 2012, a Massachusetts court found that including the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance did not violate the school’s antidiscrimination policy or state law.

An atheist family had sued, saying that even though its children had the right to not participate in the pledge, the “under God” phrase was a “religious truth” that was against their beliefs, the Boston Globe reported.

But Judge S. Jane Haggerty ruled that the words “under God” are not a religious truth, the Globe said; she referred to previous court opinions, saying the flag salute and pledge are “clearly designed to inculcate patriotism and to instill a recognition of the blessings conferred by orderly government under the constitutions of the state and nation. The pledge is a voluntary patriotic exercise, and the inclusion of the phrase ‘under God’ does not convert the exercise into a prayer.”

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court supported that ruling in May 2014, the Boston Globe said.

5. A New Jersey case was filed in early 2014 by a family and the American Humanist Association trying to remove the words “under God” from the pledge said in a public school district, The Associated Press reported.

The AP said the lawsuit alleges that even if the children don’t have to participate, the phrase “marginalizes atheist and humanist kids as something less than ideal patriots." The case has yet to be decided. 

URGENT: Do You Think 'One Nation Under God' Should be Removed from the Pledge of Allegiance? Vote Here Now!

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The inclusion of the phrase "one nation under God" in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is considered by some people to violate the constitutional decree of separating church and state.
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2014-09-09
Sunday, 09 Nov 2014 06:09 PM
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